Monday, January 30, 2006
I'm leaving tomorrow for my trip to LA and haven't packed a thing yet, so I'll have to keep this brief. I think the cartoon sums up what I'm thinking right now well enough.
One reader suggested that I should have started the cartoon with the Dems passing the war resolution back when they were a majority. A good point.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Note to any LA-area Slowpoke fans: I'll be participating in a panel discussion on political cartoons at the Hammer Museum at 7pm on February 1. Also on the panel will be Lalo Alcaraz ("La Cucaracha"), Ho Che Anderson (King), and David Rees ("Get Your War On"). I think admission is free.
The event is in conjunction with the Hammer's "Masters of American Comics" show. Should be fun!
More info on the Hammer website.
Longtime readers of this blog know I'm not a big fan of infernal buzzing machines. So I was not too thrilled recently when I was enjoying the snowy outdoors, only to have the silence shattered by snowmobiles. (This was not in Virginia, mind you -- it's been eerily warm here.) I'm convinced there is a special circle in hell filled with nothing but snowmobiles and leaf blowers.
In this case, the snowmobile area was right next to a trail where many people engage in the old-fashioned practice of self-locomotion. My being on that trail did not impose on the snowmobilers, but their snowmobiling certainly affected my enjoyment. Which reminded me of a cartoon idea I've had for a while, the notion that "freedom" does not exist in a vacuum; that there is often a "freedom from" that is the flip side of the "freedom to." In an age when the word is so abused, it's important to remember this.
While the cartoon paints "freedom from" in a positive light, I don't feel that is always necessarily the case. Our freedom to speak outweighs the freedom from speech we don't like. It just seems to me that we tend to talk about "freedom to" more than "freedom from"; the cartoon is a reminder that everything we do has an impact.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
The fact that I have not been blogging about Alito does not mean I’m unconcerned. To the contrary, I think we are on the brink of one of the biggest political disasters in the nation's history, even bigger than Bush's re-election. I was away from home for a few weeks, spending time with family, which took precedence over blogging. But I did manage to catch a bit of the hearings and a lot of infantile cable coverage, which led to this week's cartoon.
We all know the hearings were a farce. How could Alito have possibly failed in the eyes of the media? By belching his answers? Hurling a table at Ted Kennedy? Clearly his long and uncontradicted record as a regressive activist had nothing to do with anything. Cable news "analysis" framed the Democrats' questions as partisan grandstanding, ignoring the grave concerns they brought up. It's all so stupid I can hardly stand to think about it.
A couple people have expressed doubt to me that the court would overturn Roe, suggesting that would be political suicide for Republicans. I disagree. Never underestimate the apathy of the American electorate, pro-choice though it may be. An Alito court will quietly dismantle numerous civil protections we take for granted, and it will be like stealing candy from a baby. A sleeping baby! Millions were riveted to the plight of the West Virginia coal miners, yet they're unaware of the eroding worker protections that led to that situation in the first place. And they certainly don't make the connection between the miners and the highly anti-worker Alito.
I'm also disgusted with the accommodationist Dems signaling early on that they just can't stop Alito because there's not enough public support. Rallying public support is your freakin’ job, you useless gasbags! Granted, we don’t have a machine like the Republicans do, but if there was ever a time to stand up for principle, it is now. This is IT, baby. These are the keys to the kingdom (and it is increasingly resembling a kingdom).
By the way, anyone notice the dissenters in today's decision to uphold Oregon's "death with dignity" law? Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts. But of course!
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Sunday, January 08, 2006
If you like documentaries in a Michael Moore vein, you may want to check out Blue Vinyl, which I picked up off a library shelf on a whim. Filmmaker Judith Helfand explores the troubled history and devastating environmental effects of PVC, reminding us to think more about the origins of everyday products. Funniest scene: when Helfand attends a vinyl industry conference and gets hilariously BS'ed by a couple suits. There are many similiarities here to Bill Moyers' devastating PBS report, Trade Secrets, which I also recommend.
A clear lesson is to be taken from films like this: that scientific facts and industry spin do not comprise two equally-valid "viewpoints." This applies to a host of political issues, global warming among the foremost. We'd be much better off if people (especially the media) learned to distinguish between earnest thinkers motivated by a sense of the public good and hucksters selling a bill of goods.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
A must-read post at Liberal Oasis on legal devices Bush is employing to exert executive power, and Alito's relation to them (he invented one!).
Monday, January 02, 2006
I had heard the song "Massachusetts" before, but didn't realize until just recently that it was early-period Bee Gees. To be honest, I had no idea there was an early-period, pre-disco Bee Gees, but "Massachusetts" sounds like it would fit perfectly on The Graduate soundtrack. Recorded in 1967, it captures the youthful wanderlust of the '60s just before everything got a lot hairier, both literally and figuratively. The song has been on repeat in my brain for a couple days now.
Well, how do? I know, I've been away for a spell. But lest you think I've been a shameless slacker, I've been using this time to write new Slowpokes (in between vacation-related program activities, of course). Something tells me 2006 is going to provide plenty of material. Between this domestic spying business and Alito, we're looking down the barrel of a wholly unchecked executive branch. Not that we have many checks and balances to lose right now; but still, to paraphrase a certain yuletide song, it's beginning to look a lot like China.
Looking back, 2005 was a banner year for Slowpoke, if not the national discourse. I had a blast on the "Laugh While You Can" tour with my friends Tom Hart and Tim Kreider; Slowpoke took first place in its category at the 2005 AAN awards, and the cartoon now appears in several more publications. Thanks to everyone who took the time to e-mail me. I still try to reply, however briefly, to all the polite letters I get, and apologize if I missed a few. I hope to be more frequent with the blog in the coming year; we'll see how it goes.
One last New Year's-related thought: I spent the holiday in the Rockies, and as far as I could tell, the only televised countdown in the Mountain Standard Time Zone was a two-hour delayed replay of the ball dropping in Times Square. It's really kind of sad. Perhaps one step toward reducing Western resentment of the East Coast would be to give the mountain states their own televised New Year's spectacle. I propose dropping a million-watt illuminated bison in downtown Billings.
On the other hand, kudos to CNN for covering the the Drag Queen Drop in Key West.
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